Dear Home Ec 101,
I am perplexed. I have never had a good answer to the question: how should I dispose of cooking grease (that is, grease from hamburger, bacon, etc.)? I’ve used several methods, but it’s all pretty disgusting and probably not environmentally friendly. I’ve poured it off into old glass containers and tossed it. I’ve poured it off and let it freeze in a mug, and then tossed it. I’ve left it on the counter for days, waiting for someone else to take care of it (and the cat jumps on the counter and eats some of it – ick!).
I live in the country, so no sink disposal for me (and I can’t remember my city life well enough to remember if you should or should not dump it down the disposal) – and I DO know if I dump it down my sink drain, I will be in deep trouble someday.
What a great question. Your instincts have you on the right track. Do not pour grease down your sink. Small bits may build up in your pipes, eventually clogging them. For those who do not live in rural areas with a septic system, pouring grease down the drain can have a much worse impact, clogging city sewer lines. If you think a home sewer backup is a nightmare… imagine it on the scale of, say, a city block.
If you have a compost heap, it’s OK to add vegetable oils to it occasionally. These oils will break down. Animal fats may invite unwanted guests, so it’s a good idea to handle them differently. Thankfully animal fats are solid at room temperature. Use a widemouthed jar with a tight-fitting lid and store it out of sight, because eew that’s just nasty looking. When the jar is full, use a spatula and scrape it into the trash just before it is taken out. A good spatula should get almost all of the grease. Then the jar can be added to the next dishwasher load.
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